Sunday 23 September 2012

Things I Learned From My Last Dive (St Mary's Island)

Note: Lest it be thought otherwise, these are my own thoughts on what I learned from my last dive. It's not intended as a criticism of my dive buddies. I take the view that I'm personally responsible for my own dives and if something went wrong, I need to think about what I personally could have done differently to prevent it.
  1. Never abdicate looking up the tides and currents to someone else, even if they’re a Divemaster and your internet connection isn’t working.  YOU'RE responsible for your safety, not them.
  2. The handsignals for “You two stay together and wait here, I’ll go up and take a compass bearing” look disturbingly like the handsignals for “You two buddy up, I’m ascending and ending my dive”.  
  3. If you don’t understand the message someone is conveying, don’t let them do anything until you do. Write it on the slate if you have to.  
  4. In poor vis, agree with your buddies in advance that the dive moves at the pace of the slowest diver, and that the people leading will look back frequently to check that there are still the right number of people present.  
  5. In poor vis, get close on descent, and hold hands (or a buddy line) on ascent to avoid getting split up. 
  6. Never let the guy with the broken compass lead the dive. 
  7. Always carry audio and visual signalling equipment. 
  8. Spend time keeping your fitness up. My buddy and I had to surface swim for about 20 mins with a tide running. Every minute I’ve ever spent in the gym on the treadmill was worth it, because an unfit diver would have been struggling, and trying for a tow against a current is a difficult thing. 
  9. On the North Sea coast, heading West will pretty much always get you back to the coast.

On the plus side, I faced my fear of overbreathing my reg at depth, and overcame it. We all got back in one piece. And as we surfaced, and I thought “Bugger me, that lighthouse is a long way off”, I saw the Red Arrows performing in the distance for the Great North Run, and the inspiration powered us back to the lighthouse, and a very welcome biscuit.

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